By: Nikki Nies
True or false. Calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates are equal? Well, I’m not going to give you the answer just yet.
There’s so much talk about counting calories, one wanting to know how many calories to eat and how many calories are and should be allotted to empty calories. With the term calories becoming an ubiquitous term in our modern culture, do we even know what the measurement of calories is?
I know for me, it’s easy to know a concept, but if I had to explain the concept, I might not get my point across or be able to prove I know what I’m talking about.
A calorie is a unit of energy supplied by food that provides to the body. The body needs calories to function properly.
To answer my first question, no not all macronutrient calories are the same. Every wonder why fatty foods get a bad wrap? In addition to some being coined “bad” fats, they are higher in calories than carbohydrates and protein.
- Carbohydrates: 4 kcal/g
- Protein: 4 kcal/g
- Fat: 9 kcal/g
Calories are the amount of energy released when the body breaks down (digests and absorbs) food. The more calories a food has, the more energy it can provide to your body. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as body fat. Even a fat-free food can have a lot of calories. Excess calories in any form can be stored as body fat.
For those that love buttery foods and oils, you may be wondering why fat is higher in calories. Fatty foods can contain saturated fats and trans fats, which can raise LDL cholesterol cholesterol. If one consumes high fatty foods, it can increase their risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, etc. Often times high fat foods
Don’t be alarmed, not all fats are bad for you. Check out previous posts on Good fats vs. bad fats, oils and fats.
Side note: Alcohol contains 7 kcal/g.
Now you may be wondering how many calories you should be eating. There are so many equations and formulas available to calculate recommended caloric intake. This chart below gives an idea of how many calories one might want to aim for in relation to his or her activity level. However, all levels are just a recommendation and doesn’t take into account metabolism, environmental factors or personal interest.
I hope I’ve helped clear up some confusion by providing a better understanding of what a calorie is and in relation to everyday consumption of foods.